from the everything-is-a-content-moderation-story dept
I had been meaning to do another story on the whole GameStop/Reddit/WallStreetBets story, because there’s a lot of really fascinating points on this, but my original story got pretty much wiped away this morning when Robinhood, the popular stock trading app that promotes itself as a way of democratizing stock trading and providing free trades — and which was the main app used by Redditors to drive up the prices of various stocks that a bunch of hedge funds were trying to short — announced that it was blocking the trades in all of the volatile stocks that Redditors were driving up. It did so in the most ridiculous of statements, claiming that they were pausing buying of those stocks to “[help] our customers navigate this uncertainty.”
Amid significant market volatility, it?s important as ever that we help customers stay informed. That?s why we?re committed to providing people with educational resources. We recently revamped and expanded Robinhood Learn to help people take advantage of the hundreds of financial resources we offer and educate themselves, including how to make sense of a volatile market. In 2020, more than 3.2 million people read our articles through Robinhood Learn.
We?re committed to helping our customers navigate this uncertainty. We fundamentally believe that everyone should have access to financial markets. We?re humbled to have helped many people invest in the markets for the first time. And we?re determined to provide new and experienced investors with the tools and resources to help them invest responsibly for their long-term financial futures.
Bull and Shit. The people buying into this stuff didn’t need help “navigating this uncertainty.” This was a protest. This actually was what happens when you “democratize finance” and stop letting the big giant firms abuse the system for profit. And it turns out that that’s not what Robinhood really wanted after all.
As incredible as it seems, it turns out that even this is a content moderation story.
Also, I can pretty much guarantee that Robinhood is going to be hit with a whole bunch of class action lawsuits, probably before the day is out. (Actually, they were hit by lawsuits before even this post was out!)
Many people have recognized that while there’s a lot going on here, at least some of what’s happening is legitimately smaller individual investors giving a big giant “fuck you” to the big Wall Street hedge funds that were treating the market as a plaything with which to get ever richer. I heard someone jokingly note yesterday that Reddit and Robinhood together accounted for more wealth distribution from the rich to the poor in the past week than the Democratic Party has in years.
And, like every other time that gatekeepers’ walls are knocked down, the gatekeepers freak out. This is Hollywood freaking out about Napster all over again. Yesterday the big news was that Discord banned the r/WallStreetBets server, which was where many of the Redditors were gathering (outside of Reddit). The company claimed — somewhat ridiculously — that the ban was for hate speech on the server. But the timing of it made that look like a very weak fig leaf. Considering how many gamers use Discord (its original target market), I can assure you that other servers have a lot more hate speech than the WallStreetBets one did.
Then, last night, we had the totally expected old school “Hollywood reacting to Napster” response when NASDAQ’s CEO, Adena Friedman, said that they should halt trading in GameStop and the other targeted stocks to allow investors to “recalibrate their positions.”
Funny how they never seem to do that when it’s retail investors losing their investments.
As with other situations, the events of the past few days only serve to underline how the system itself is rigged to help the big guys on Wall Street, and the second that everyone else figures out how to game the system themselves, the gatekeepers freak out and look to reassert control.